by Kim Ariail
I have been supporting bi/tri-lingual students in the classroom since 2002. As there is little evidence to support pulling out bi/tri-lingual students from their content classes, (and putting them in a separate class, in turn, ostracizing them), I have been mostly co-teaching and co-planning with the core content teacher. In doing so, the core content teacher and I can meet the many different needs students have.
Well, one thing I have noticed in all these years is that many students no longer want to read for fun when they approach secondary school. Or, they are so busy doing extracurricular activities or have lots of homework (agghhhhh – you should know how I feel about homework by now) and therefore lack the time and energy to read. Or if they are reading, it is a prescribed, mandated book that has been deemed a classic (although no standards stipulate you have to read a specific title in a specific grade) which could ZAP the joy out of reading. Knowing all of this, observing struggling readers and just flat out wanting to get books into students’ hands I proposed a reading class as an elective: As the Page Turns was created and implemented.
I was anxious at first because I had created this class with the idea we would be in the classroom, all together reading different books and coming for a group discussion at the end of the period. I had even created an aesthetically-pleasing reading space with plants, learning-inspired colors, various seating arrangements, and fragrant, meditative smells. I struggled with how this class was going to be what I had envisioned if we had to do it online. Guess what?! It worked, it IS working. In fact, IT IS AMMMMMAAAZZZZIIIINNNGGGG.
We read. We read. We discuss. We read. We read. Did I say we read? We started the first quarter reading short stories discussing literary elements to further comprehend the stories. We use Zoom breakout groups to share thoughts and ideas, and use collaboration to analyze the stories. We have just started our 2nd novel. Students choose a book from a list of recently released novels and decide what they will read. Alternately, I will find the novel they have requested. For example, one student wanted to reread, 1984 by George Orwell. This book would not have been one of my choices but since the student wanted to read it, reread it in fact, I made sure I could have it available. Another student stated she was wondering when she would be able to read particular award-winning titles as she did not have lots of extra time and was delighted to know she could now read them. And a struggling reader even asked for a particular title. BE STILL MY HEART! All of these statements, all of the interaction and engagement from this diverse class, all of this – makes me grateful to be their teacher, teaching them in this class.